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May 3, 2011 9:00 AM, EDT

Feds Extend Handheld Cellphone Ban to include Hazmat Truckers

Federal regulators have issued a proposed rule that would extend a ban on the use of handheld cellphones to include intrastate hazardous materials motor carriers.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposal would restrict the use of handheld electronic devices, including handheld cellphones, by drivers during the operation of a motor vehicle containing a quantity of hazardous materials requiring placarding.

The proposal closely follows a proposed rule issued last year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration banning handheld cellphones for all interstate drivers and motor carriers.

“PHMSA is essentially requiring by regulation what most carriers are already doing by policy,” said John Conley, president of the National Tank Truck Carriers.

“What we will need to determine is how the regulation will be enforced and to ensure that a violation does not go against the carriers CSA as a hazmat violation,” Conley told Transport Topics.